Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Rise of Independent, Single Women

Surely, Rebecca Traister is correct to point out the ascendance of single women as a political force. More and more women have chosen to postpone marriage and family in favor of career. And they have become a significant voting bloc.

These independent women are more likely to be progressive. They turn to government for programs that will do for them what traditionally would have been done by a husband.

Many people have noted that husbandless women look to Uncle Sam to solve their problems and to protect and provide for them. Whether it is parental leave, higher minimum wage or new anti-sexual harassment legislation, single women consistently vote Democratic because they see the government serving them in ways that men no longer can or will.

Traister disputes the notion that single women look to the government as surrogate husbands, but her argument is fatuous. The point is clear and obvious.

More importantly, Traister’s analysis ignores the fact that women who seek independence and autonomy over family are more likely to be alone. And very few of them really like and want to be alone for most of their lives. Most of these women have been told that once they become fully actualized feminists they will naturally find true love and the perfect husband. This is and was a lie.

Traister ignores these women because goal is more ideological and more political. She is proclaiming the advent of a new social class, a new proletariat that will advance the cause of socialism through the ballot box. Feminist zealots like Traister  want to see the nation transformed into a socialist paradise-- of the government, by the government and for the government. Seeing the feminist agenda become law is far more important than the real lives of real women.

Statistically speaking, marriage has gone out of style. Or, at least, early marriage, marriage in one’s twenties has diminished. Fewer women are getting married and fewer women are marrying young.

Traister reports:

In 2009, the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50 percent. In other words, for the first time in American history, single women (including those who were never married, widowed, divorced, or separated) outnumbered married women. Perhaps even more strikingly, the number of adults younger than 34 who had never married was up to 46 percent, rising 12 percentage points in less than a decade. For women under 30, the likelihood of being married has become astonishingly small: Today, only around 20 percent of Americans are wed by age 29, compared to the nearly 60 percent in 1960.

It is a radical upheaval, a national reckoning with massive social and political implications. Across classes, and races, we are seeing a wholesale revision of what female life might entail. We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood as a norm, not an aberration, and the creation of an entirely new population: adult women who are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry. 

True enough, it is a radical upheaval. Through the lens of feminist ideology these women are strong and empowered and independent. They can care for themselves and provide for themselves. They do not need a man for anything. But, Traister fails to consider the fact that they are alone and that they often do not like to be alone. The longer they stay single the more likely it is that they will stay alone. At times, they have their children later in life. At other times, they cannot have children.

In time, these facts will make the radical transformation unstable. When young women look at what older women have sacrificed for career and to belong to the new proletariat they are less likely to want to emulate their example.

Like men, women are perfectly capable of adapting to circumstances. And yet, delaying marriage and family is a risk. It is a gamble. You can argue that it represents a form of self-actualization, but it requires you to take certain risks.

These newly independent women are living in a fiction where a man is no longer really necessary. But, that fact alone tends to drive men away. A man who has no real purpose in a woman’s life beyond donating an occasional bodily fluid is not likely to see her as a desirable wife. The more a woman is self-reliant and self-absorbed, the less she is likely to find a husband… unless she can find one who shares her ideological zeal.

Worse yet, being educated in schools that laud girls at the expense of boys dulls men’s competitive spirit and make them less capable of providing for a family. They might find women useful for certain bodily pleasures but few will want to marry the women who were pushed ahead of them in school.

Traister describes this coterie of independent women as having exciting and full lives. She glosses over the fact that many of these singletons are desperately lonely. I would be interested in knowing how many of them are taking medication for their anguish. And I would wonder how they feel about the repeated traumas of failed relationships.

It all looks like a triumph for second-wave feminism. This is, after all, the feminist dream come true. It represents a feminist-driven transformation in the way women see themselves, the way they plan their lives, the way they see men and the way they treat men.

Why should a zealous feminist like Traister not take credit for it? Despite her protestation, the radical change was generated by cultural warriors who politicized private life.

Traister says otherwise, but many of these women are doing it to make a point, to demonstrate that they can live their lives just like men do… and without paying a price. The latter point is completely occluded in the article, but deserves re-emphasis. Women have every right to live their lives as they prefer. To imagine that there is no trade-off involved or that no one is going to pay a price is dishonest.

In Traister’s words:

This reorganization of our citizenry, unlike the social movements that preceded it and made it possible — from abolition and suffrage and labor fights of the 19th and early-20th centuries to the civil-rights, women’s, and gay-rights movements of the mid-20th century — is not a self-consciously politicized event. Today’s women are, for the most part, not abstaining from or delaying marriage to prove a point about equality. They are doing it because they have internalized assumptions that just a half-century ago would have seemed radical: that it’s okay for them not to be married; that they are whole people able to live full professional, economic, social, sexual, and parental lives on their own if they don’t happen to meet a person to whom they want to legally bind themselves. The most radical of feminist ideas—the disestablishment of marriage — has been so widely embraced as to have become habit, drained of its political intent but ever-more potent insofar as it has refashioned the course of average female life.

I agree that the radical feminist idea has become a habit, widely embraced by women. That does not, of course, make it less political or less radical.

One respects the right of any woman to make whatever life decisions she thinks are best for her. And yet, feminism has not done any women any favors by sugar-coating the outcome.

Most women do not relish the prospect of being alone. Most women are not pleased to discover that by the time that they decide to have children, their time has passed. And women who have children in their late thirties discover that it is not very easy to hold down an important executive position and to raise young children at the same time. Traister herself is a writer, so the problem did not arise for her.

And, yet, ideology has not yet repealed human nature. Whenever motherhood happens, the responsibility falls primarily on women.

The women who are fiercely independent, who do not need a man for anything and who do not feel that their men depend on them for anything  discover, once they have children, that their children need and depend on them.

Human infants are born helpless and remain helpless for longer than do most other animals. They need care and nurturance, of a sort that, in truth, only women can offer. If you ask a woman whether she would prefer that she or her husband be in charge of caring for a newborn, the answer, nearly universally, will be that she very much wants to be in charge herself.

One is not surprised to see a feminist distort reality and declare that the traditional division of household labor and the traditional division of childcare responsibilities is merely a function of what Traister calls “the ‘50s-era social contract.” Obviously, the traditional and nearly universal (with some slight variations) social contract was not invented in 1950. One can only wonder how today’s intelligent, hyper-educated young women can actually believe such a piece of patent nonsense.

Speaking of distortions, examine Traister’s conclusion:

The independent woman, both high earning and low earning, looks into her future and sees decades, or even a lifetime, lived outside marriage, in which she will be responsible for both earning wages and doing her own domestic labor. 

Why does she refuse to point out that to many women this dream is a nightmare? Why does she lie about the difficulties that women have when they feel alone and abandoned, unloved and undesirable? Why does she indulge in a rank distortion, if not to induce women into buying the feminist fiction of cost-free independence?

Traister revels in the fact that this new class of women is a reliably Democratic voting bloc. If that is a woman’s goal, she does best to follow the feminist siren song. If that is not a woman’s goal, she does best to ignore it.


Leo G said...

40 year old friend of my wife was over last weekend having some cocktails with us. She has a 1 year old, is married. A huge cost to get pregnant, because, well she is older. If not for modern tech, they would have had no child.

Direct quote, "I wish that I had (the child's name) earlier, I just don't have the energy"

I almost blurted out that she should be yelling this from the highest roofs, but instead sat smugly.

priss rules said...

It’s been said that women are more ‘liberal’ than men, and politically/ideologically this seems true. But at the fundamental biological level, women are more hierarchical and ‘rightist’ than men. If the ‘right’ is about hierarchy, women are all about hierarchy when it comes to sex and marriage.

Women don’t seek men who are equal with women in every respect. They seek out men who are bigger, stronger, smarter, richer, and more aggressive.

The rise of feminism was less about white male oppression than white female disgruntlement at increasing white male wimpiness. Though feminism was ostensibly about equality, women were breaking out in search of stronger and tougher men. Look at the latest installment of feminism, and it’s all about whores putting out to rapper thugs and athletes.

So, feminism is a lie. Ideologically, it talks the talk of equality, but biologically, it craves men who represent power and aggression way beyond that of any woman.
At the biological root, women want REAL MEN. They prefer a Donald Trump to a Jeb Bush.

The boomer generation of women realized that their mothers were married to ordinary Joes. They looked down on their fathers and didn't want to be stuck with such losers. They wanted better men.
Feminism claimed to be against male tyranny, but all ambitious feminists(non-lesbians one at least) really wanted superior men. Remember Jane Fonda the so-called lefty married billionaire Ted Turner.

So, deep down inside, feminism wasn't against male power. It was against the idea of being pressured by society to marry some 'loser' ordinary Joe. It was about breaking free to find the SUPERIOR male. Feminists wanted a career not to be free of men but to be free 'inferior ordinary joes'. They wanted Superior Johns.

The final logic of feminism is FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.

Anonymous said...

The entire feminist construct is bunk. As a sixty something, I remember the early days of the movement - and the pun is quite intended.

Forty years ago I attended my first and only NOW meeting at the invitation of a trusted friend where I was stood up against a wall and debased for ending a lucrative position to stay at home and raise two children. That was then, as it is now, denigrated as beneath my capabilities and unfaithful to the movement.

In the end, as the article so intelligently points out, the government becomes the surrogate husband/father to provide what a husband/father has traditionally provided. However, I believe there is an even more onerous outcome and perhaps even a goal.

The children that these 'independent' women birth are inoculated with whatever message the government funded daycare/school/after school/recreational camp/food program wants to promote. Parental rights are lost and more importantly, the children are, too.

David Foster said...

"The children that these 'independent' women birth are inoculated with whatever message the government funded daycare/school/after school/recreational camp/food program wants to promote. Parental rights are lost and more importantly, the children are, too."

I'd argue that even *absent* any particular message being explicitly sent, the very condition of being constantly with a large group of children from a very early age tends to inculcate a 'go along to get along' kind of conformist mentality. I believe something of the sort was observed to happen during the early days of communal child-raising on Israeli kibbutzim.

Anonymous said...

"Destroy the family and you destroy society." Lenin.

"Family life was and always will be the foundation of any civilization."


priss rules said...


British anti-Zionists getting serious.

A warning sign?

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: But, Traister fails to consider the fact that they are alone and that they often do not like to be alone. The longer they stay single the more likely it is that they will stay alone. At times, they have their children later in life. At other times, they cannot have children.

It is interesting how hard it is to imagine women who do not want childre, although we accept as a part of human nature that most men in human history never had children.

The just mockery of 2012 Obama campaign "The Life of Julia" certainly demonstrates this ideal of the single woman, with a powerful central government taking care of her, just like a husband of old.

On the other hand, if we consider not all women want or need their own children, and that their instinctual "nurturing skills" have many avenues of fulfillment, then perhaps we don't have to project women as desparate or less "independent" then men who make the same choices.

My dad's only aunt never had kids, and didn't marry until after 50, and despite being a couple years older, she still outlived her husband by 20 years. And she had 4 married brothers, all with children, and no shortage of family connections, and she gained an extended family on her husband's side too.

I imagine she waited to get married in part because the men that might marry her wanted children, although perhaps that predicament might be smaller these days.

It does seem like many kids of the next generation will be lonelier than my generation, or my parents, or grandparents, with more single child families.

If poor Julia is afraid of life unless she has Paternalistic government to take care of all her needs, probably it is because she's a single child, and never learned all those important social skills, growing up with siblings and cousins, so she becomes a stooge for the Democrats, trying to give people "free stuff" in exchange for responsibility of spending someone else's money.

Since the earth clearly has more than enough people, perhaps in the coming generations we'll discover the best social arrangement is more specialization - and some women will have 3 or 4 or 5 children, and 70% of women will have zero children, and then the majority of woman won't blame themselves for failing to have children. They'll think its natural that not everyone needs to be a biological parent.

And this childless status has NOTHING to do with being "alone", but it makes sense if we all have extended families, and community relationships, whether a husband dies young or never happened, she'll still be loved and a part of something greater than herself.

On the other hand, we know statistically divorced men and never married men do more poorly when they get older, and die younger, whether from bad habits, or a broken heart.

Anonymous said...

shoe @February 23, 2016 at 2:08 PM:

"'Destroy the family and you destroy society.' Lenin."

Something I continue to be amazed by with all this "Feel the Bern" thing and young people continuing to say "Yeah, communism is a great noble idea, but..." is that the Leftist track record is so bad again and again and again. Lefties do not build anything. They only destroy what they have at their disposal: wealth, family, children, etc.

So it is no surprise that Lenin held the family as a worthy target. It's par for the course. The Left is a destructive force. They are destroyers.


Ares Olympus said...

Shoe and IAC, any serious sourcing on the Lenin quote "Destroy the family and you destroy society"? (Of course google will find thousands of repeats, but that means nothing.)

I did find someone by the name of Erin Pizzey includes both of Shoe's quotes together. Perhaps she was quoting Lenin?!
"Family life was and always will be the foundation of any civilization. Destroy the family and you destroy the country." - Erin Pizzey

The context is here. The paper title does sound like a conspiracy.
http://www.whale.to/a/pizzey2.html THE PLANNED DESTRUCTION OF THE FAMILY by ERIN PIZZEY

...Throughout all the fighting I kept preaching that family life was and always will be the foundation of any civilization. Destroy the family and you destroy the country.

I warned that of the violent women with their children coming to me, virtually none used contraception. My mothers had an average of 5.1 children, meanwhile non-violent families had a 2.5 average.

I wrote reports, I drafted memos, all to no avail. Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. In the back of 'Scream Quietly' I listed all the agencies that had failed my families.

I wrote that I was not seeing social workers, I was seeing political activists with social work degrees. The same went for teachers, and probation officers, editors of books and magazines. Like a giant cancer this movement dug its crabs legs into anywhere they could wield their power.

So interestingly she started women's shelters, but got in trouble with feminists for acknowledging that women as just as capable of physical abuse as men.

Erin Patria Margaret Pizzey (born 19 February 1939) is an English family care activist and a novelist. She became internationally famous for having started the first domestic violence shelter in the modern world. Haven House[2] is often cited as the first women's refuge (called women's shelters in Canada and the U.S.), but at the time of their founding they only worked to help the mentally ill transition from committed life in a hospital to life in the outside world. By contrast the refuge started by Erin Pizzey was focused on removing victims of domestic abuse from their abusers, in an attempt to break the cycle.

Pizzey has been the subject of death threats and boycotts because of her research into the claim that most domestic violence is reciprocal, and that women are equally capable of violence as men. Pizzey has said that the threats were from militant feminists.

Dennis said...

Civilizations survive or fail by their birth rates. If the birthrate is not high enough there will be no one to pass on the cultural mores of that civilization. Except for the Israelis, the birthrate in the Middle East has dropped precipitously. In the rest of Africa where Christianity is a growing force the birthrate is at or above replacement. I suspect that radical Islamists know that and why they kill anyone who is a Christian. Terrorism is the last gasp of a dying culture that is striking out at everyone.
When women fail in their unique responsibility, which is happening in most countries where Islam and secularism is practiced, cultures fail. That is why it is easy to predict that most European countries will cease to exist in 20 to 50 years. The same is true of many Islamic countries. We will suffer the same fate.
The true danger of feminism is in its destruction of self and us as well.

sestamibi said...

Stuart, you said several times in your blog entry that women don't want to be alone, and that this urge is in conflict with current fashions in politics.

I don't think that's all that true anymore. I didn't get married until my mid-40s, in large part because I kept meeting women who baldly claimed that they didn't need a man. "Next" I said each time this happened. When I was younger I wrote this off to posturing by girls who had a whole lot of choice and time ahead of them, but when I heard it from women in their 30s and older, I took it at face value.

I attribute this to a self-selection process: those who wanted to be married urgently made whatever compromise they needed to when younger, leaving an older cohort increasingly composed of those who preferred being single, viewing the desire for a man as a sign of weakness.

While I don't believe we ought to interfere with the choices that individuals make, including single by choice, we ought to start thinking about the social consequences when too many women make that choice.

Ultimately these women will remove themselves from the gene pool, and patriarchy will be re-established. Question is, how many lives have to be destroyed in the process?

Don't believe me? Consider some of these half-time scores:

Antonin Scalia 28
Elena Kagan 0

Mitt Romney 25
Bill Clinton 2

Michelle Duggar 19
Sandra Fluke 0